Whitechapel Gallery, London, until May 14
It’s great when an artist’s work can be seen by millions of people in their everyday lives, rather than just the comparative handful who go through the doors of an art gallery. Visitors to the British Library can’t miss Eduardo Paolozzi’s imposing statue of Isaac Newton, based on William Blake’s painting. Nearby, a huge statue sits outside Euston station, while Pimlico Cooling Tower is both an artwork and a ventilation shaft outside Pimlico Tube station.
It’s not just sculpture; if you’ve travelled around the London Underground since the mid-1980s you’ll have seen Paolozzi’s instantly recognisable artwork: the bright, colourful mosaic of cogs, pistons, wheels and much more, on the platforms at Tottenham Court Road Tube station.
Step out of another Tube station, Aldgate East, and you’re at the entrance of the Whitechapel Gallery, a fringe-ish gallery which hosts some surprisingly major exhibitions. The Eduardo Paolozzi retrospective, on two floors, spans five decades and more than 250 works of the Edinburgh-born artist often claimed as the godfather of Pop Art – though by the early 1970s he had abandoned it to the extent of spoofing it (including his own earlier work).
Paolozzi resisted being pigeonholed into just one style. He worked in concrete and bronze, textiles and screenprints, constantly exploring new techniques and new materials.
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